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Baxter election turnout reaches 82 percent

BAXTER — An 82 percent voter turnout was reported for the city of Baxter.

On Wednesday, the Baxter City Council met as a canvassing board to formally declare the 2012 election results.

With one in 10 city residents choosing to vote absentee now, Administrator Gordon Heitke wondered how many people would be going to the polls in the future. Heitke praised the election judge work of Doreen Eiesland and Mary Haugen.

In other business, the council:

Approved an exterior remodel for Stepping Stones Daycare on Fairview Road.

Approved applying to have the city host the 2013 Cal Ripken Mid-West Regional Baseball 12-U Tournament, a division of the Babe Ruth League. The tournament involves eight states and the event is expected to bring more than 500 families to the area for the week-long event.

Engaged CliftonLarsonAllen for the city’s 2012 audit.

Approved a small brewer off-sale liquor license and on-sale liquor license for Patrick Sundberg, Jack Pine Brewery, 7942 College Road.

Approved hiring an entry level police officer to fill a vacancy in the department with Assistant Chief Shane Ahrendt’s retirement in October. With the retirement, the Baxter Police Department had 13 full-time equivalent employees.

Heard council member Jim Klein was requesting questions on an automated meter reading option. Heitke said he was asking for the council’s direction before spending additional staff time to research the issue. Council member Todd Holman said it’s reasonable for a council member to have questions answered but he wasn’t sure if staff should spend time on a cost analysis and research without council direction.

Klein said he was just looking for a cost comparison to see what the cost is to read meters with staff now and what it was to read by mail or with an automated system to see what the best option was. Heitke said using numbers that may be outdated now, the cost for an automated system could be $750,000, but those number would need to be updated to have an accurate account.

Klein then asked to have a closed session to discuss labor negotiations with the city’s two unions and other personnel problems. There was not a second to his motion. And Heitke reminded the council the city has a policy that Klein and Olson are excluded from being in those labor negotiation conversations because they have family members who work for the city.

The labor contracts are expected to come before the council for action in December.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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